Ben Santini was a member of Stormwatch Team Achilles.
After years of arduous training and numerous covert missions, Ben Santini rose to become one of I.O.'s top operatives, a member of Director of Operations John Lynch's personal Black Razor unit. When WildC.A.T.s founder Jacob Marlowe put a bullet through Santini's knee during a battle, though, his Black Razor career seemed to be at an end.
Crippled by the injury, Santini refused to accept a desk job and opted instead to undergo a series of experimental operations to replace his shattered knee with a mechanical one. The operations proved successful, but the strain resulting of such efforts as participating in an operation was initially nearly unbearable even for him.
When Lynch unexpectedly resigned from I.O., Santini was chosen to replace him as Director of Operations, and he has since then struggled to prove himself worthy of the job in the face of the skepticism from his own men. To compensate for this, he adopted a policy of regularly going in the field with his former teammates, to show them they could still trust him. He showed them that, while not being Lynch, he had something different to bring them, something as valuable as Lynch's leadership and experience. Once that trust was granted, he avoided the field to spare his knee. Later on, he was even appointed interim Director of I.O., replaced at this office by Ivana Baiul.
Baiul, however, was very unpopular within I.O., and Santini and a couple of fellow I.O. executives attempted to blackmail her to have her let go of her new position, using material from a video footage taken during a raid of DV8 on a CIA base.
Project: ENTRY is an I.O. project that was launched under Santini's authority under the direction of Dr. Kendricks, a former NASA scientist. The goal was to have an equivalent technology to the "doors" teleportation gates used by the Authority - teleportation through parallel universes. Due to Kendricks' skills and information derived from a StormWatch project (which had briefly managed to open a gate to another universe before the StormWatch II satellite had to be destroyed and StormWatch closed down), the project was functional within ten weeks.
However, I.O. still had a number of men who owned their loyalty not to Santini but to the previous director - Ivana Baiul. Baiul saw project : ENTRY as the perfect vehicle to get rid of Santini, by sabotaging the installation. After the initial team of Black Razors and scientists, led by Blake Coleman, stepped through the gate, the machinery crashed due to subtle sabotage. As Baiul had anticipated, Santini then mounted a rescue op, stepping in the repaired gate with the rest of the Black Razors. As soon as they were gone, Project: ENTRY crashed again. The entire Black Razor team, I.O.'s operations director and several scientists were stranded on another Earth.
They soon understood that every man, woman and child on this Earth had been slaughtered a few months ago - the streets of every city on the planet were full of piled, rotting corpses. As they came under attack, it became evident that a single superhuman, named Devil, was responsible for this unimaginable slaughter and was now attacking them. The whole science team and most Black Razors were slaughtered; only Santini, one Dr. Offenberg and two Razors (Blake Coleman and Luis Cisco) survived. Eventually, Santini bluffed Devil, teleporting him to the Australian Outback then detonating a compact nuclear device place on him.
After gating back to their Earth (Offenberg knew the ENTRY tech), Santini investigated and discovered that Devil was actually a project born on his own Earth, in his own organization, and headed by Ivana Baiul. As the latest biological super-weapon, Devil had been field-tested on an Earth that was completely unprepared for him, and stranded here until needed again. Santini attempted to have this terrifying scandal brought to the Hague as a war crime, but I.O.'s liaison with the US government, Senator Terns, buried the whole affair.
None of the survivors of Project: ENTRY would forget what happened, though - in fact, those events are in many ways seminal to what would later become Team Achilles. In particular, Santini arranged to become the sole man alive to have all the plans of tech necessary to operate Project: ENTRY.
StormWatch Team Achilles
What happened during Project: ENTRY, and the realization of Devil's true origin, marked a turning point for Santini. He knew humanity needed a considerably more powerful protection against SPBs (Super Powered Beings), and he knew he couldn't do it as part of American forces, given the issues with I.O. The situation with the Authority was also getting out of hand.
How exactly the new StormWatch came to be is unclear. It is known that it was voted on by the UN's Security Council at a point where it had been made certain the US representative couldn't veto the initiative - it was obvious the US would never go for something that could threaten their own SPB activities. The creation of the new StormWatch also was done without the consent of the "United Nations Special Security Council", a group of six multi-billionaires who controlled much of the UN and had specifically been the real masters behind Henry Bendix's StormWatch.
Santini spent months before the actual StormWatch launch inspecting and cracking numerous files with Blake Coleman and Khalid Tefibi - although Coleman and Tefibi never met each other. In particular, they managed to start cracking the encryption on many extremely valuable Bendix files. It is also apparent Santini came with many top secret I.O. technologies and data in his briefcase; in particular he had a fully operational ENTRY projector assembled in the UN building in Manhattan, although he didn't give Tefibi enough info for him to understand the full implications of ENTRY tech.
Despite those preparations, the new StormWatch had to be rushed into action three weeks early. Santini's old nemesis, Ivana Baiul, was now head of an Homeland Defense agency, and decided to test Santini's steel (and increase her own budget) by having Islamist terrorists attack the UN's H.Q. in Manhattan. Santini and Coleman, who were jogging in Central Park at that point, managed to slip in the building, kill a superpowered guard, capture another and assemble the team, taking out the majority of the SPB terrorists and forcing the two survivors to retreat. Shortly after, Santini was teleported against his will by the UN's Special Security Council. The multi-billionaires were furious to see a new StormWatch not under their control, and wanted to make clear to Santini who was boss. Santini had a plan, however - the SSCC didn't realize he had a hidden emitter in his knee, nor that Project: ENTRY teleportation couldn't be electronically blocked. After a short, tense discussion Santini had two members of his assault team, Jukko Hämäläinen and Jaeger Weiss, teleport in and execute the SSC members. He then massaged the situation so that it would look like the SSC members had been killed into the UN buildings by the terrorists, allowing him to escape any retaliation planned by the SSC.
The new StormWatch was very low-key - no super-satellite, no super-powered operatives in colorful spandex, no squadrons of high-tech jet fighters with terribly powerful bombs. This time, the team was working with an UN budget, without the benefit of billions from the SSC. Santini had a very international team made of less than ten persons, almost all of whom had elite military training and had proved to be the best of the best. All the Americans on the team (Luis Cisco, Blake Coleman, Khalid Tefibi) were ex-I.O. operatives who hated Baiul and I.O.'s policies, and were personally loyal to Santini. The rest included two ladies from France and Russia respectively, as well as shock troops from Finland, Germany , the United Kingdom and Israel. The new StormWatch, called Team Achilles, relied on training, experience, hard-hitting military tactics and top-of-the-line intel, technology and weaponry. Eventually, superhumans were added to the team, though usually not as front line personnel.
Team Achilles personnel included Captain Galena Golovin (sniper), Sergeant Charles Pickney (spotter), First Lieutenant Jaeger Weiss (assault), Master Sergeant Blake Coleman (assault), Lieutenant Jukko Hämäläinen (close combat), Specialist Luis Cisco (entry), Lieutenant-Colonel Marie Grunier (medical, negotiator), Lieutenant Avi Barak (telepathic warfare), civilian specialist Khalid Tefibi (ordnance, computers, tech) and two SPB "consultants" - Buzz Dixon (intel) and Frederick Ngebe Braumholstein (aka Codename Alias, intel/impersonation) who operated outside of the team - in fact their existence wasn't revealed to the team until after several weeks. Coleman was eventually KIA, and Cisco retired due to both serious wounds and his marriage. Santini eventually added an SPB to his front line troops - Victoria N'Gengi aka Flint. Most of the team has had hostile encounters with posthumans prior to joining Team Achilles, and shared to some degree Santini's distrusts of the ones Master Sergeant Coleman called "superf***".
During the following months; Team Achilles proved to be up to the task of controlling a number of threats. A powerful Serbian empath radiating low-level hatred over the Balkans was taken out and had his powers neutralized. The remainder of the terrorist group that had attacked the UN was taken out, along with a major target - Dhul Fiqar, one of the few known activators of Seedlings, who was providing SPBs to Islamist terrorist groups, prevented the Russian army from moving into Chechnya (from which they had been expelled by the Authority), took down a reality-manipulating SPB who had taken over a small American town and prevented the reincarnated George Washington from destroying the US - although extensive damage was done to key Federal buildings and personnel in Washington, D.C. - such as the SCOTUS and Congress. They also stopped an European villain named Baron Chaos.
However, during that time, the vendettas continued. Baiul managed to capture Tefibi - but was outmaneuvered as the StormWatch telepath was much more powerful than her intel indicated, and had layered multiple booby traps in Team Achilles' minds. Santini also abused his resources to track down and kidnap Senator Terns, the man who had prevented the truth about the SPB named Devil from reaching the Hague. Santini kept Terns, widely considered to be the most powerful Democrat in Congress, prisoner in his H.Q. and had Codename Alias replace him. Santini also sent Flint to Earth ENTRY on his behalf to bring him the head of Alfre... of Devil, and she did.
During those months, a highly dangerous feud developed with the Authority. Santini considered SPBs taking the world into their own hands an abomination; though he made a point of not killing any of them, he still kept outmaneuvering them. The Authority came to the conclusion he was out for superhuman blood, however, and Santini and his men started figuring on their list of "terminate-with-prejudice" targets.
When the Authority took control of the United States in a coup d'état, the situation for StormWatch became dire. They could no longer operate from Manhattan, and it became almost certain the UN would fold if the new Authority-led US government asked for Santini. Santini destroyed everything in his H.Q., killed his one remaining prisoner and evacuated a few seconds ahead of the Authority, whom he left to contend with the vicious booby traps he had left behind. He told two new recruits and his support personnel (Grunier and Barak) to go - they weren't closely associated with him and would escape Authority retribution, though they chose to remain with the team anyway. The rest had to go rogue.
Santini still intended to do his job, though - and control SPB threats to humanity. He accepted a contract from Vatican contacts, and found himself in a struggle between the two self-declared descendants of the Merovingians - and thus, of Christ. Santini eventually maneuvered his way out of the thick intrigue by having everyone killed and selling all the remaining info to his main contact in the Vatican - who incidentally seemed likely to be the future Pope.
At that point, several of Team Achilles' prisoners on Earth Entry (including Senator Terns and the latest reincarnation of George Washington) made an escape attempt and clashed with Team Achilles again. All team members ended up trapped on Earth ENTRY. While Santini has a plan to come back to their universe, it does involve trekking from the US to Siberia to access a top-secret lab.
Santini, his team and their prisoners' trekked to Siberia proved fruitless, and had spent the last few years searching for a functional Stormwatch teleporter that could return them home. Also Santini had married Flint, but their relationship had already begun to falter.
They eventually discovered one and powering it up with the help of Baron Chaos, they arrived just in time to witness the onset of Armageddon. Flint (having become estranged from Santini during the team's exile) left to join up with her former teammates in Stormwatch Prime and Santini vowed to continue what they're good at: killing superhumans.
Black Razor gear
- Technically, Ben Santini was created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, since he first appeared in WildC.A.T.s #2, but he wasn't given a name or personality until WildC.A.T.s #15, which was written by James Robinson and illustrated by Travis Charest.
- 40 Appearances of Benito Santini (Wildstorm Universe)
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